American girls sold for sex and made to believe they wanted it - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

American girls sold for sex and made to believe they wanted it

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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Experts say sex trafficking is happening closer than we think, highlighting a case in North Carolina, but say in order to stop it, we need to change the way we view trafficking.

Rachel Lloyd recently visited the UNCW campus to talk about her experiences as a sex trafficking victim as part of the university's Human Trafficking and Women's Rights Lecture Series.  Lloyd was also the focus of a documentary called "Very Young Girls" and is also the founder of Gems, a non-profit dedicated to helping young women get out of the life.

Lloyd also wrote a book about her experiences in "Girls Like Us".

Lloyd says older men exploit young girls who may be vulnerable.  Many have had childhood traumas before age 10.  By the time they reach their early teens, they're in trouble.

"Pimps are offering something no one else has offered," said Lloyd. 

Read one Wilmington mom's case to get her daughter back

Lloyd says the pimps don't identify themselves as such.  They just get to know the girl as a boyfriend, and then they make them sell their bodies.  It becomes a cycle for the girls, which typically follows them into their adult lives. 

Local experts say human trafficking is a real issue in North Carolina.  The Tar Heel State happens to be one of the top ten states for human trafficking with contributing factors such as poverty and location.  Many girls have been trafficked up and down the East Coast, making North Carolina a drive-thru destination.  Women trafficked from New York to Miami have also likely been trafficked through North Carolina.

 "I think we can only talk about choice when you're talking about someone who's an adult-adult, not someone who just turned 18.  But for millions of women, this issue is about lack of choices, not about choice." 

Lloyd was named one of 50 women who can change the world by Ms. Magazine.  She currently lives in New York and continues to mentor women. 

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